Electronic Arts’ cooperative shooter “Army of Two” launched in 2008 and went on to sell over 2 million copies, earning a sequel and solidifying itself as a franchise that EA has big plans for. This week, the first game’s follow-up hits shelves, as “Army of Two: the 40th Day” arrives for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable and the Xbox 360, picking up a few years after the events of the original game, as Private Military Contractors (PMCs) Elliot Salem and Tyson Rios are on a mission in Shanghai when the entire city comes under attack. The two must fight their way out while trying to figure out who’s responsible for the destruction taking place around them.
Launching alongside the game this week is the “Army of Two” ongoing comic, the first series to be published under an agreement between IDW and EA that established the new “EA Comics” banner. 25-plus year industry veteran Peter Milligan (“Human Target,” “Hellblazer,” “Greek Street”) is penning the series, which will be illustrated by Dexter Soy. CBR spoke with Milligan to get the details on the series, which will take a deeper look into the relationship between Salem and Rios.
CBR News: Peter, how did you first become involved with the “Army of Two” project?
Peter Milligan: Rob Simpson at Electronic Arts called me and told me about it. To be honest, my initial response was to say I wasn’t interested. But after talking with Rob, and getting some assurances from him about the kind of comic it might be, I agreed. This really isn’t the kind of thing I would usually do, and I suppose that was one of the attractions about the project. That, and being at the forefront of a new comic line from such a large, multi-national organization. I’d actually worked for EA many years ago on a project called “The Darkening.”
What was it about the world of “Army of Two” that caused you to overcome your initial hesitation and ultimately attracted you to the property?
The two main characters, Rios and Salem. The game really only touched upon their characters, leaving me a lot of room to explore with them. How I see this story – and their character dynamic – is a kind of “Odd Couple” meets “Rambo.” I like the fact that these two warriors can hardly stand the sight of each other. Yet, like some cranky married couple, can’t really do without each other, either. The fighting, the bloodshed, the acts of heroism, all that seems to be little more than a backdrop to the real story that’s going on: the battle between Salem and Rios.
Where does your story fit with regards to timeline of the “Army of Two” games?
I believe, sometime after the first series and sometime before the second series.
Can you talk a bit about the young character of Jaime that you introduce in issue one? It seems like his story will be offering a different perspective to the conflict that Salem and Rios are involved in.
Jaime is a young Mexican kid who we meet early in the story. The first storyline is as much his story as it is Salem and Rios’. He’s from a similar kind of background to Rios and Salem: poor, on the fringes of crime – and when we meet him he’s a pretty good, decent kid. But a series of events conspire to change all that.
You’ve written about crime and military conflicts in “Bad Company,” “Judge Dredd” and “Rogue Trooper,” among others. Did you revisit some of those stories when writing “Army of Two?”
I can’t say I did, no. I’m less interested in concocting some generic crime or military story than I am exploring the characters in this story.
What do you think it is about Rios and Salem that makes them different from most of the military-type characters we see in games today?
I suspect it’s the non-heroic, argumentative, pissed-off sides to their characters. This makes them pretty flawed and human and more than simply big guys with big guns.
As an industry veteran, do you feel that publishers are approaching game-related comics differently than in the 80’s and 90’s?
I can only talk about this particular adaptation. And before I agreed to have any part of it, I had to be sure that we were all interested in making a comic book that could stand up on its own merit. The only way these things can work – and I suspect this is where they might have screwed up in the past – is if the comic can be read, understood and enjoyed by someone with no knowledge of the thing from which it’s been adapted.
Are you a gamer yourself? Were you familiar with the “Army of Two” game before coming on to this series?
I’m not really a gamer. For some reason, I got into “Duke Nukem”(!!) some time ago. And I also got pretty hooked on a few racing/rally games. I had the whole steering wheel kit going on. I found that racing while completely naked, with a bottle of good Scotch whiskey by your side, just added to the thrill. But I soon found that this kind of game becomes too addictive and takes up way too much time.
With all of the artists you’ve worked with over your career (Brendan McCarthy, Jamie Hewlett, Mike Allred, etc.) is it still exciting for you to work with a relative newcomer like Dexter Soy on a project?
Oh yeah, completely exciting. I didn’t know much about Dexter’s work, but I have been very impressed. I think he’s got a great future ahead of him.
Have you already mapped out where you want to take Salem and Rios after the first arc of the series?
I have worked out the next storyline. It’s taking Rios and Salem to a psychologically and morally darker and more ambiguous place.
For more on “Army of Two,” head over to IDW’s website. Details on “Army of Two: The 40th Day” can be found at the game’s official website. The EA Comics website should be launching shortly, and you can sign up for updates over at eacomics.com.